Words by Mallory Dawson

This delicious winter recipe is sure to impress friends and family. It is a labor of love to make, but your house is guaranteed to smell like heaven for 5 hours plus, you won't break the bank.

 

First Step: Braised Onions

Do. Not. Skip. This. Step. Some recipes don't tell you about the onions. But braised onions change lives!

Ingredients:

1 small bag of peeled pearl onions
3 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup chicken stock (or whatever stock you have on hand) 
Parsley
Bay leaf
Thyme

Heat butter on medium in a pan, add onions. Brown onions evenly in butter making sure not to break the skin. This takes longer than expected but fills your house with a delicious aroma. After the onions are browned, add the stock and make a herb bundle of the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf; add to the mixture. Let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the stock is completely absorbed in the onions. Remove herb bundle. Eat one because it's worth it, then hide it so no one else eats them until the Coq au Vin is finished.

 

Second Step: Actual Chicken Part of Recipe

Ingredients:

6 ounces of bacon (or however much bacon you can stand; I put a whole pound one time...)
3 pounds cut-up chicken (Chicken breast is the standard American choice, but darker meat will have more flavor and be juicy. Breast at your own peril!)
1/4 cup cognac
1 bottle of Bordeaux or a tasty French red wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 cloves garlic
1 spoonful of tomato paste
Bay leaf
Thyme
1/2 pound mushrooms

Take a large Dutch oven or pot, your primary Coq au Vin dish. Simmer the bacon in a little bit of oil at the bottom of this dish. Remove bacon pieces when they are cooked but not crispy, and keep all that delicious bacon juice at the bottom of the pan. It felt a little awkward when I did this at first because the bacon can be hard to reach, but the flavor experience is worth it. After, pat the chicken dry and rub salt and pepper all over it. Adding salt and pepper to your meat before you cook it is one of the things that will distinguish your cooking from other 20-somethings-trying to-figure-out-life. So again, salt and pepper the meat. Put chicken in that delicious bacon juice and cover it for 10 minutes, making sure you brown all sides of the chicken.

 

Step Three: Here Come the Fireworks

Uncover, pour the cognac, ignite with lighted match, then take both sides of the Dutch oven and rock it back and forth until the flames go out. Pour out some cognac for yourself and toast with whomever is in the house to the fact that you set the food on fire intentionally this time.

 

Step Four: More Alcohol

Now, the moment you've been waiting for. Pour an entire bottle of wine into the pot. The whole thing. It’s exhilarating! Add another 1/2 cup of chicken stock, the tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme to taste. Let the chicken cook in all this goodness for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked. Add the braised onions and bacon to the mixture.

While the chicken is cooking, saute mushrooms in butter over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. When the mushrooms are delicious, add them to the chicken.

When the chicken is done, drain out the liquid into a separate pot and boil it down to concentrate the flavor. Take a few tablespoons of flour and a tablespoon of butter and beat into the mixture to thicken it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You now have a delicious pile of onions, mushrooms, chicken, and bacon and a separate delicious sauce. Your dish is ready to be served! I think the best way to serve it is to artfully arrange the veggies and chicken on a plate and pour the sauce over the top.

*Serves well with mashed potatoes, green beans, and good friends.